By Chinelo Ngene
Following the brutal rape that allegedly occurred in Abia State Universityand the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards finding the perpetrators, it is easy for a lot of us to become numb to stories of rape. However, the last thing we need to be is desensitised, because this is far from being the last case of rape we are likely to hear about or encounter. It is important that we keep in mind both safety measures and survival tactics in case we ever find ourselves in that situation whether as a witness, or a victim of such bestiality. Not that we wish it on ourselves but one can never be too careful.
“Victims of rape, many times, face a massive uphill emotional battle to regain self-respect, self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-control.”
Fight while you can
This can never be overemphasised. You need to resist sexual assault both verbally and physically. Clearly stating “no,” “stop” or other effusive terms that signify your disapproval with the sexual intimacy is extremely important to deter inappropriate advances and clearly express your feelings.
Expectedly, if you are not out of your wit in a situation such as this, you can use psychological tactics, persuasive conversation, or physically attempt to extricate yourself from it and immediately flee the scene. Physical resistance can be effective in the absence of weapons, particularly in date rape or spousal rape situations. Physical resistance can make certain sexual acts more difficult or even impossible to complete and clearly communicates non-consent beyond any doubt.
Under other circumstances, however, resisting sexual assault can be more dangerous than the assault itself. With the use of weapons or brutal force, resistance is likely to lead to a number of injuries and possibly death. Some victims correctly elect to submit. This does not in any way imply consent nor change the nature of the sexual assault. If you for any reason believe the assaulter could cause you bodily harm in the case where you pull out a weapon, I suggest you make sure you can escape easily.
No reaction under these frightening and unfamiliar circumstances is incorrect. Resist as far as you are able, and then use survival tactics. Surviving an assault is the most important thing. Most victims will recover from any physical injuries related to a sexual assault and most sexually related medical problems can be managed without long-term consequences. However, the psychological damage is another matter.
Report rape to appropriate authorities
Nearly everyone is apprehensive of the stigma and complexity associated with reporting rape. This inclination must be fought and overcome. The more we try to put it away and pretend it never happened, we are actually empowering these perpetrators and letting them roam the streets scouting for more victims to unleash their brutality on. Sexual assault should always be reported and sexual assailants prosecuted and punished. They are more than likely to act again, and the level of violence used is likely to increase with subsequent attacks. Although prosecution of sexual assault is fraught with many problems, victims of sexual assault generally fare better psychologically if they cooperate with authorities to bring sexual assailants to justice.
As friends and family of rape victims, we also have a part to play in their speedy recovery. Survivors of rape often experience changes in their overall health. Sleep disorders such as insomnia or eating disorders often occur following rape or sexual assault. Some women experience nightmares and flashbacks. Others encounter body aches, headaches and fatigue, anxiety, depression, self injury, and/or suicide attempts.
Victims of rape, many times, face a massive uphill emotional battle to regain self-respect, self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-control. It is a battle that can be won with the help of caring and supportive friends, family, counsellors, and physicians. Let’s all help out in any way we can; a kind word may just be all it takes.